Maybe you got your tax return and decided to use that money to update the furniture in a room in your house, dispose of those dorm room remnants and give that neglected room a fresh look with your evolved taste. Then when it was redecorated and remodeled, you found yourself looking at every other room of your house with disdain or minimally with a critical eye and you slowly started evaluating and adding new artwork or rearranging the furniture or painting the walls a new color at 2 am on a Sunday morning. Weight-loss had a similar effect on my life and it will on yours too.
Food is a drug, at least it was for me. There was always certain foods (and certainly not the healthiest ones) that induced a dopamine response as soon as I swallowed them. The last decade of my life was lived in a fat coma where food kept me high and not really focused on the life I was living, living under the influence of food was a simple, happy way to live. When a strong feeling would sneak past my subconscious, I would anesthetize it with whatever junk food I could find and I would medicate myself until I didn’t hear those questions or feel those feelings anymore. As I got well (and yes-that’s what this process feels like, a 12 step recovery), I started to reevaluate every aspect of my life. Was the man I married the best choice for me (ouch)? Did I really have any business having children or did I just long to be part of the 2.3 average American Dream? Did the career I thought I loved really match my true potential? Should I have bought this house and be tied to one location for the next 20 years? Are my friendships really challenging me or are they just comfortable echoes of the life that I’m supposed to be living happily? All these questions broke through to the surface without my frequent food-use pushing them back down and it terrified me in a way that I couldn’t have imagined, almost to the point where I longed to be fat again and to get my daily soma pill so I could function in a quasi-like haze of reality.
As a teacher, especially as a special education teacher, there is no greater exhilaration than when a student asks a question about a procedure or a concept that shows that they are thinking about their own thinking. I know I’ve done my job when a student asks those type of questions but as a person inside my head that kind of meta-cognition was something I wanted to suppress, to extinguish, to avoid. Because unlike a problem that had to be solved on the board, these questions forced me to solve things that I wasn’t ready to examine and that potentially would result in solutions I wasn’t comfortable with or ready yet to accept.
Asking these questions and searching for the answers within my heart has been the hardest part of my weight-loss journey. It has truly shaken me to the core. There is nothing scarier than awaking to a reality that you are no longer sure belongs to you. Some of the answers I’ve found and others I’m still in search of the correct solution for but real learning and growing doesn’t happen by not asking those questions. Don’t be afraid to re-imagine your life as your outsides are re-imagined…sometimes you just need a new piece of furniture and sometimes it’s a total gut job but the changes you make will ensure that you love your space for the rest of your life.